RaiseNJ Coalition Advocates Testify In Support of Senate Bill to Raise Nearly 1 Million Workers to $15/Hour

RaiseNJ Coalition Advocates Testify In Support of Senate Bill to Raise Nearly 1 Million Workers to $15/Hour

Trenton, NJ–Today, a coalition of over 40 grassroots, community, faith based and pro-worker organizations across the state attended the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee hearing in support of S15, to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. The coalition called on members of the budget committee to support the bill to raise up nearly 1 million New Jersey workers to a greater living wage.

Raise New Jersey Coalition supports the bill and issued the following statement by Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, who convenes the coalition.

After so many years of advocacy and expressed need from constituents across the state, it is exciting to see New Jersey moving forward toward the finish line in the race to raise nearly 1 million workers to a $15/hr minimum wage. This bill puts New Jersey on the path to lift up workers and families out of poverty. Low wage workers who stretch their wallet and work double shifts can no longer wait for this policy. It’s time for a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey.

 

The following are statements from organizations part of the RaiseNJ Coalition:

SEIU 32BJ, Vice President and NJ District Director, Kevin Brown

We are pleased to see a $15 minimum wage for New Jersey finally going through the legislature after years of community, labor, immigrant and faith groups organizing, protesting and lobbying together. A $15 minimum wage will support local workers, their families and the communities they support. It will be good for our economy and for all working people in our great state.

 

Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, Executive Director, Renee Koubiadis

All workers deserve a raise to get by in our high-cost state. The working poor are suffering. “Working poor” are two words that should never be heard together in the richest nation in the world, nor one of the richest states in that nation. If you are working you should be able to afford all of yours and your family’s basic needs. While every worker deserves the dignity of a decent wage as human beings, we applaud the legislative leadership and this committee for moving forward with a bill that helps many low-wage workers survive more easily in our high-cost state. We urge you to pass this legislation so that struggling workers receive a long-awaited and much-needed boost in income.

 

Main Street Alliance, business representative, Raj Bath

We’re very happy that the Legislature continues to move forward with a bill giving New Jersey employees a much needed, if gradual, raise. Many big businesses continue to benefit from unnecessary tax breaks while paying their workers wages you can’t live on. But small business owners understand the best way to motivate and retain workers is to pay them a living wage. Many already pay their employees $15 an hour or more and many others are close to that wage. Small business owners also understand that their employees are important customers in their own communities, and they will buy more goods and services from all businesses if they have money in their pockets. What’s good for employees is also good for small business and the communities they do business in.

 

CATA – The Farmworker Support Committee, Executive Director, Jessica Culley

We appreciate that in this new proposal many New Jersey workers will finally get the $15 minimum wage we know that they need. We recognize that timelines are shorter than the previous proposal and that fewer categories of workers are carved out. However, it is still disappointing to see that there are categories of workers that have to wait more than 5 years to get to a $15 minimum wage and that farmworkers, a critical workforce in this state, are not even guaranteed a $15 minimum wage. This new proposal, while beneficial to most of New Jersey’s workforce, specifically carves out farmworkers to a greater extent and still allows for the potential of a creation of a subclass of workers. As a farmworker advocate organization, we will continue to advocate for equality for farmworkers and ask legislators to consider different language that would guarantee farmworkers a $15 minimum wage by 2026.

 

Action Together New Jersey, Director for Economic Policy & Trade, John George

Action Together New Jersey supports the passage of the $15 minimum wage bill and looks forward to working with the legislature and Murphy Administration to make the state more prosperous for all residents.

 

Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey, Executive Director, Rev. Sara Liljia

This conversation that is being heard today cannot be complete without speaking of the moral obligation good government has to all;  those who are business owners, and also to the workers. Too often the interests of business is prioritized over the needs of hard working families, today we see evidence of something different, wages that are on a scale to increase over the next few years. Perhaps these increases are too slow, but we need to keep moving in this direction every year, for every worker.  We will need to revisit the timetables and carve outs over the next year, no worker should be forgotten. Because you have an obligation is to treat all workers fairly and help them succeed, just as Jeremiah reminds us.

But today is a day to say Thank you, and let’s keep working to make New Jersey a place called home where all are treated with justice

New Labor, member, Reina

My name is Reina and for the past 15 years, I have worked as a domestic worker in up to five different houses a week. Today, I work in up to two homes per week in Lakewood, NJ.  It is very difficult to find a job in domestic work employed at just one home. For this reason, I do not agree with the new bill that proposes that only workers who work in one home will be included in the $15 minimum wage legislation. This would apply to only a few domestic workers, which I do not think is the intended purpose of this bill.

To date, not only do we not earn a good salary but we are also excluded from receiving any benefits such as paid vacation and sick days. To me, this proposal is not just in any way. All we want to do is spend more time with our families and not debate between staying home to care for myself and children when one of us is sick, or going to work sick and leaving them alone when they are sick so I don’t lose income needed to pay our expenses.

 

We continue to fight not only for us but for all our families.

 

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